At the Easter Vigil, the Prelatic Church of Our Lady of Peace, Rome (April 3, 2010)
1. My dear sisters and daughters:
Surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia! Jesus has risen. This is the great announcement that the Church has been proclaiming for twenty centuries. St. Peter told the Jews on the day of Pentecost: God raised him up, having loosed the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it (Acts 2:24). And St. Paul exclaimed: “O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?” (1 Cor 15:55). As St. Josemaría wrote, commenting on the first glorious mystery of the Rosary: “Life has overcome death.”
The same has to happen with us, for we are members of Christ’s Mystical Body. At the end of time we will participate fully in the victory of our Head, when our bodies arise— through God’s mercy—for eternal life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his (Rom 6:5). But al- ready now we are granted an anticipation of that glorious resurrection. If we live in Christ by grace, if we try to accompany him and let him ac- company us, if we go contritely to the holy sacrament of Penance, if we receive the Eucharist with faith and devotion, the final word will not be our weakness or our miseries. The final word will be that of Jesus Christ, who wants to free us too from sin and death.
Let us often give thanks to our Lord, because he has given us bodily life and, above all, the life of grace, because he has called us to his Church and keeps us there. Thank you, Jesus! We want to live your Life, to identify ourselves ever more closely with you, because that is what gives full meaning to our entire existence
2. To have Christ’s Life in us, which we received in Baptism, we need to seek him, as the holy women did on that first Easter Sunday. We have heard the narration of St. Luke, who tells us that on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices which they had prepared (Lk 24:1). They could not live without Christ. With- out the Master’s company, they feel alone, unable to do anything; there- fore they seek him eagerly and hurry to offer him their care, as they had done while he was living among them.
They do everything possible to reach the tomb as soon as possible. Nothing detains them: neither the fatigue of the previous days, nor the night’s lingering darkness, nor fear of the soldiers who are guarding the tomb. And our Lord, seeing their great love, sends them messengers from heaven: Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen (Lk 24:5-6). Those who remained faithful to Jesus, those who didn’t abandon him at the hour of betrayal and danger, became apostles of the apostles themselves. Jesus himself, as other Evangelists record, appears to them on their way and gives them this message: Go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me (Mt 28:10).
Jesus always goes out to meet those who seek him perseveringly, who overcome the difficulties they are faced with. He calls us too by our name, as he did Mary Magdalene, who sought him eagerly. And, like her, he will give us his joy and peace. Anyone who seeks him, docile to the impulses of grace, will always find him.
Holy Week in the Year of the Priesthood is ending. It is a good moment to ask our Lord to enkindle our priestly soul—which all Christians have; you as well, through baptism and confirmation—so that we always seek Jesus in the ordinary circumstances of our life. Thus there will grow in us the desire that many more people—who yearn for Jesus, perhaps without knowing it—will seek him, find him, and love him.
3. By his death and resurrection, Jesus reminds us that, in order to enjoy the happiness of being with him, we need to lower ourselves, to walk, as he did, along the path of humility. St. Josemaría liked to meditate on those verses attributed to a Spanish mystic: “Lower yourself, if you wish to rise, / lose, if you wish to gain, / suffer, if you wish to rejoice, / die, if you wish to live.”
Thank you, Lord, because by your birth, and by your death and resurrection, you showed that you are mitis et humilis corde (Mt 11:28), meek and humble of heart. Therefore, in the humility of your birth, as well as in that of your death, the angels proclaim that the joy of heaven has come down to earth.
Let us seek Christ more eagerly, imitating him in his self-lowering, so that his greatness may shine forth in our life and reach others. As a re- ward for his voluntary humiliation, God has highly exalted him and be- stowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil 2:9-11). With words of Benedict XVI, I tell you: “The Easter proclamation spreads throughout the world with the joyful song of the Alleluia. Let us sing it with our lips, and let us sing it above all with our hearts and our lives, with a manner of life that is ‘unleavened,’ that is to say, simple, humble, and fruitful in good works.”
4. Surrexit Christus spes mea: praecedet vos in Galilaea, we pray in the sequence of the Mass for Easter Sunday.
Since Jesus goes out to meet those who do not abandon him, it is logical that he went to meet his Mother as soon as he arose. Mary, the Mother of Christ and our Mother, is the teacher of faith. The Second Vatican Council says that she grew constantly in faith, hope and charity.
Bethlehem, the flight into Egypt, Jesus’ passion and death, were steps in our Lady’s firm life of faith, which attained its greatest intensity next to the Cross. Then as well she believed that God would fulfill his promises, the words that his messenger had announced to her many years before in Nazareth: You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God
It is easy to understand why our Lord wanted to have his Mother in heaven, in body and soul, since Mary was always totally God’s, both in body and soul. He had already crowned her on earth, making her his Mother, and then he also does so in heaven, which he has opened to all those who—like Mary—believe in him and love him. We want to crown her by our fidelity in striving to please her Son, and by uprooting our miseries, going to receive divine pardon in the sacrament of Penance. Thus we will be able to make our own the words of St. Josemaría: “the Angels render homage unto her as her subjects... and the patriarchs and the prophets and the Apostles... and the martyrs and the confessors and the virgins and all the saints... and all sinners and you and I.” Amen.